Frightwig No. 8

3 Nov

Frightwig-HitReturn-JacketArtFrightwig / Hit Return : Self-released

Before the artfully acerbic shock rock antics of Riot Grrrl and the rock’n’roll gender subversion of L7 and Tribe 8 came the behemoth noisemakers Frightwig, whose line-up convolutions (more than 12 members past and present) match their unbridled sludge-meets-acid punk wall of sound that marries the world of Chrome, Flipper, and Bomb with bash’n’pummel feminism, whacky street theatre, and tuneful chaos. This EP showcases both then and now, like the veteran shredded disco onslaught  “A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do,” (1984) which was right at home with their former tour mates DOA’s version of “War” and “The Midnight Special.” The gals load it with bombastic horns, bump and grind bass, psychedelic-discharged guitars, skittering hi-hat dance floor drums, and skewering wordplay. That slab is joined by the straight-forward flare gun of “Crazy World,” (1986) in which the endlessly chunky guitar and moaning vocals about men-as-stooges still puts to shame all the limp alternative folk girl feminism masquerading as meaningful in the iTunes era. To increase the tempo and pace, they unfurl “Big Bang” from the same year. With snarling talk-cum-prose vocals and whirling guitar/keyboard interplay hinting at off-kilter Velvet Underground traits, the bulldozing tune feels like a barbed wire jukebox hit that takes the exoskeleton of Joan Jett and Patti Smith and fills them with hot molten lead. Instead of pop pomp and poetic epiphanies, they pen blood-curdling vignettes for the dank and dreary, pissed and unforgiving. Though new tune “Crawford” does carry its weight well and contains all the sly sonic kernels of vintage Frightwig, I have to admit the caterwauling vocal napalm attack of “My Crotch Does Not Say Go,” (1984) with its propulsive, cave stomp percussion and determination to present both female fury and cutting insight, does feel every bit as atavistic as the day the band peeled back post-hardcore’s possibilities. Though they might have erupted from the same period as the Pandoras and Screamin’ Sirens, they feel like sisters from another more blood-boiling planet. For more band info, visit: http://www.frightwig.org.

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